MAYPORT, Fla. – To mark the fifteenth year after 9/11, Naval Station Mayport had its own commemoration of the attack Sunday, in front of the docked USS New York.
Even with all of the pomp and circumstance for the ceremony, the fact remains that there are 7.5 tons of steel from the Twin Towers in the bow of the USS New York. The ship’s captain spoke about that responsibility.
“It’s humbling," Capt. Ken Coleman said. “I mean, everywhere you walk on board this ship, there’s some type of reminder or tie to 9/11. Whether it’s a prayer card, a coin, or a symbol someplace that reminds you of those events of New York City.”
One example is a rusted sheet of metal with “WTC” carved in it, along with a message hanging above your head as you walk through the USS New York. Capt. Coleman said that brings them together in no other way he’s seen.
“Everybody is kind of swept up into that,” Capt. Coleman said. “It makes us stronger, and it makes us come together as a family like no other ship I’ve been on.”
On land, hundreds, including Cathy Caldwell, gathered for this 9/11 ceremony, with this piece of New York in Mayport.
“My husband actually serves aboard the New York,” Caldwell said. “So, we have that additional connection beyond what I think all of America has with 9/11. I mean, it’s a day etched in all of our memories forever.”
Memories of survivors and victims were shared. A wreath was laid in the water, bringing to life the 3,000 souls Capt. Coleman said are watching over him and his crew, including Caldwell’s husband, even 15 years later.
“It seems like not that much time has passed, and yet, it’s amazing that it has,” Caldwell said. “I think the fact that the ship is forged with the steel from the Twin Towers really makes it meaningful. Today, we heard them say not only is it forged with the steel, but it’s forged with the souls of those who perished on 9/11 at the Twin Towers, and so that really hits home.”
“For today, in particular, on 9/11, all us, whether it’s the crew, the marines that are embarked, our shipyard workers or those of you here today, all of us are New Yorkers today,” Capt. Coleman said.